New York, New York

Published: 10 May 2015 09:30

American Airlines’ regional airports manager Martin McGillion talks transatlantic travel

WITH 6,700 flights now operating each day to 339 destinations across 54 different countries from its nine USA hubs, things are moving at top speed for American Airlines following its merger with US Airways. Its new direct service between JFK and Edinburgh Airports has barely left the tarmac and we’ve decided to grill top man Martin McGillion, regional airports manager for the UK & Ireland, on why Scotland to New York is such a key route.

 “Both the US and UK are major economies and travel between the two is of critical importance to business travellers,” – Martin McGillion, American Airlines

“Both the US and UK are major economies and travel between the two is of critical importance to business travellers,” – Martin McGillion, American Airlines

Q: In which sectors do you primarily see business travellers journeying between Scotland and New York?

A: Business passengers travelling between Scotland and New York typically work across a range of industries but, as you would expect, the main ones are the financial and professional service sectors. New York is renowned as a business destination, with strong demand on routes from the UK for business travellers.

Q: What business credentials does New York have which appeal to Scottish firms?

A: With a number of large financial businesses and multi-national firms having a presence in both Edinburgh and New York, there is a natural need for connections between the two cities. JFK offers passengers travelling from Edinburgh the ability to connect to more than 35 destinations across the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Scottish customers travelling to the west coast of America can also connect through JFK to Los Angeles and San Francisco on AA’s market-leading A321 ‘Transcon’ aircraft – offering lie-flat seats in First and Business Class.

Q: Before the introduction of the new route, what were the options?

A: Scottish customers typically have a range of options, including travelling to London with our Atlantic Joint Business and oneworld alliance partner British Airways (BA), before then connecting on to New York with either ourselves or BA. But we want to provide time conscious business travellers the opportunity to fly directly to JFK from Scotland. Our new service arrives in New York before midday and leaves again for Edinburgh after 7pm, giving business travellers on a tight schedule the chance to be in the city for less than 24 hours if required. We hope to target business travellers from across Scotland and northeast England that demand speed and convenience when they travel. We expect them to welcome the launch of our direct service to New York and also take advantage our onward connections.

Q: Why is this an important market for AA?

A: Both the US and UK are major economies and travel between the two is of critical importance to business travellers. From May this year we will have direct flights to New York JFK from four UK cities; Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Manchester. Both New York and Edinburgh are both hugely commerce-orientated cities and we hope our new service will support further business partnerships and opportunities between the two.

Q: Why is Edinburgh such a good base from which to operate?

A: As the busiest airport in Scotland, with just over 10 million passengers passing through in 2014, operating from Edinburgh gives us access to a large and affluent catchment area across south Scotland and also the northeast of England.

Q: Does AA have any plans to introduce further routes from Edinburgh?

A: We have an existing seasonal service to Philadelphia from Glasgow, just one hour away from Edinburgh, which is now in its 11th year of operation. With the new service to JFK from Edinburgh, Scottish customers will now have access to two major American Airlines hubs on the U.S. east coast, providing them with more overall connectivity. We are continually assessing opportunities to further expand our global network, with Edinburgh being an important addition in 2015. If we see a strong enough demand for direct flights to other US destinations, then additional routes will be given due consideration.

Q: Did you face any challenges in getting the regulatory approval?

A: We worked closely with the various authorities to ensure this new route became a reality and want to thank them for their valuable assistance.

McGillion has worked in the airline industry for a number of years, including a lengthy stint at Air Canada. He also worked in the industry at the time when two American Airlines aircraft and its passengers were lost in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. As an aviation insider, he doesn’t believe in the conspiracy theories which have since been doing the rounds and says that significant measures have been made across the industry to improve aircraft and airport safety following those events.

Jump to first paragraph.